RAMADI, Iraq -- Our men and women in uniform, doing extraordinary work day in and day out, are winning the ongoing battle for Iraq. Some days, in some places, the battlefront requires house-to-house searches, military "hardware" and courageous actions by the most awe-inspiring fighting force the world has ever known. I witnessed the tenacity and skill of our Marines, soldiers and sailors firsthand in the recent Operation Matador. Other days, in other places -- and more commonly -- the battle is won with a smile, a shared canteen, a soccer ball, a "human experience," heart to heart. America's men and women in uniform are so remarkable because they play the dual roles of warrior and diplomat in the midst of a constant struggle between life and death.
Just the other day, Marine Lt. Dave Russell, a veteran of the recent Operation Matador, told me, "We get along very well with the Iraqi people. The children are always running up to us, looking for candy, pencils, footballs, whatever you want, and our interaction with the Iraqi populace on a whole has been extremely positive." Just a few weeks ago, Army Maj. Mark Bieger sent a U.S. helicopter on a life-flight mission in a vain attempt to save a young girl, a victim of a terrorist attack in Mosul. That helicopter could have been needed for force protection or medevac for U.S. troops. Bieger, husband and father of three, took the risk because he valued that one young Iraqi life so much. The Iraqi people have come to trust our troops -- that we do not intend to stay any longer than necessary; that we desire to help them be self-sufficient and leave as soon as possible.
One remarkable development is the role in security and policing operations performed by Iraqi men who desire peace and who share the black-and-white, "peace or death," view of the First Battalion, Fifth Regiment. When I was last here eight short months ago, Iraqis were beginning to be trained. Today, Iraqis man check points and take part in patrols with U.S. forces and our Marines have come to trust their Iraqi "brothers" to "watch my back." I asked one young Marine corporal who had just returned from one such joint patrol about how the Iraqi soldiers were working out. "Better than I expected, sir," came the response.
Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist, the host of War Stories on the Fox News Channel, the author of the new novel Heroes Proved and the co-founder of Freedom Alliance, an organization that provides college scholarships to the children of U.S. military personnel killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. Join Oliver North in Israel by going to www.olivernorthisrael.com.
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